Mum of four backs Fostering for Adoption appeal
Local mum is backing our appeal to find forever homes for a number of babies after adopting her fourth child via a recently launched scheme.
Introduced nationally in 2013, ‘Fostering for Adoption’ aims to benefit both children in care and adopters. It allows a child whose plan is likely to be adoption, to be temporarily fostered by their potential adoptive parents, whilst the court proceedings and final decisions are reached.
In doing so prospective parents and children are able to develop healthy attachments at the earliest possible stage. It also protects the child from experiencing multiple moves within the care system and provides them with consistent, uninterrupted continuity of care.
A Fostering for Adoption placement will only be made very occasionally as a last resort, where there is clear evidence that birth parents are unlikely to resolve their issues, or that other family members are unable to take care of the child.
Under the initiative Kirklees Council has successfully placed 13 children, many from birth, with loving families and need to find homes for at least seven babies over the coming months.
Claire, 39, and her 52 year-old husband, Richard, were matched with a six-week old girl earlier this year. Because they had gone through the Fostering for Adoption route, she was able to live with them straight away. They were then given the go-ahead to adopt the baby girl within just three months.
The couple had previously adopted three children through Kirklees Council – two sibling girls now aged nine and eleven in 2009, followed by a boy in 2011 now aged six – via the traditional adoption route after being unable to have children of their own. They’d always planned to adopt three children but the couple soon experienced ‘empty nest’ syndrome after their youngest son began nursery, so they looked to the local authority once again for their fourth child.
“Although we’d been through the adoption process twice before with Kirklees the Fostering for Adoption scheme was something new to us.
“Previously, once we’d been matched with our children we then had to go through a handing over process, which involved gradual contact over several weeks before they could come and live with us. The adoption process moved pretty quickly with our older daughters but for various reasons, it took a little longer the second time round with our son.
“This time, because we’d chosen the Fostering for Adoption route, we could take our daughter home with us until the courts decided on her plan of care. It just made so much more sense that she could live with the people who were very likely to become her adoptive parents and we were able to bond with her straight away. Those extra months with her were precious and made a real difference.”
Whilst there is a small chance that under the Fostering for Adoption scheme a child may be reunited with their birth family the vast majority go on to be adopted. Claire adds:
“From the start we were made aware that there was a small chance our daughter could have gone back to live with her birth family. But we talked it through with our social worker and we knew that circumstances meant that this was highly unlikely. I appreciate that Fostering for Adoption might not be for everyone but after weighing everything up we knew this is what we wanted. We felt it was a risk worth taking and the benefits have far outweighed any of this.”
Reflecting on how adoption has benefited her family, Claire adds:
“I’d say we’re a very diverse family. Richard has two sons from a previous relationship and they’ve proved to be wonderful big brothers. Even though at 19 and 24 they’re much older and are not blood related to their siblings it makes no difference and they often take them on fun days out and love taking them to places like Nando’s for dinner. It all feels very natural and I think we have an amazing family dynamic.
“Adoption is as much about the child as it is the parent and being there for them is what counts. Both our older daughters, who are birth sisters, had physical and developmental issues when they came to us. But when we met them for the first time the connection was immediate, with one of them saying, “you’re my mummy”, whilst the other one could be heard shouting from the other room, “I’m in here!” So all that seemed almost irrelevant and both girls have since completely overcome those issues. Now they’re like any other nine and eleven year olds, so it goes to show what you can achieve with a bit of love and affection!
“I’d always wanted to be a mum and adoption is something that’s really worked for us. If you’re determined enough you’ll get there. Our goal was to fill our house with children and now, even with our unplanned new addition, I wouldn’t rule out doing it all again.”
Sarah Callaghan, Kirklees Council’s Director of Children’s Services, added:
“Fostering for Adoption is a national scheme and since it was introduced, Kirklees Council has successfully placed 13 children with loving families who are now reaping the benefits of being placed with their adoptive parents at the earliest opportunity. We currently have seven babies coming in to our care for whom Fostering for Adoption has been identified as an appropriate plan. These children are highly unlikely to live with their birth families so we urgently need suitable families who can offer them permanency as soon as possible.
“There would be very definite advantages to placing these babies early on. It would avoid any issues caused by terminating temporary foster care placements and would allow the early months and years of their lives to be what most children need and expect. In turn, prospective adopters can establish bonds and provide a loving family at the earliest possible stage.
“Through the Fostering for Adoption scheme, prospective adopters go through the usual adoption process as well as attending a ‘Skills to Foster’ course. Once approved, they would then be matched to a baby who would live with them under temporary foster care arrangements until the courts finalise adoption as the right plan for the child.
“This route to adoption only happens in exceptional cases where a child’s chances of going back to their birth family are remote – often there is a history of neglect or abuse – and no other option is suitable for them.
“Although it’s highly likely that you would go on to adopt the child you would need to think carefully about the possibility of the court not agreeing the adoption plan and the child leaving your care. There will always be a degree of uncertainty but each case is different. Our adoption team would be able to talk through your options to decide if this is right for you and offer advice and support throughout.
“These new measures are still in their infancy, but experience tells us that the benefits of consistent care for the child from the earliest stage of their life, are immeasurable.”
More about fostering for adoption
If you’re interested in finding out more please do not hesitate to contact one of our team on 0800 018 3001 or by visiting our webpage.